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Cyril of Alexandria: Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, vol. 1

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Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (412–444), is best known as a protagonist in the Christological controversy of the second quarter of the fifth century. Readers may be surprised therefore to find such polemic absent from this early work on the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. Another possibly unexpected feature of this Alexandrian commentary is its focus on historical exegesis, which reveals Cyril’s serious interest in the fortunes of the people of Israel and Judah in the centuries preceding and following the exile. Unlike his predecessor Didymus the Blind, Cyril abjures an approach that dismisses the historicity of the text (as in his opening defense of Hosea’s marriage), and he proceeds to other levels of interpretation, moral and spiritual, only after a preliminary examination of the historical.

Indebted to the diverse approaches of Didymus, Jerome, and Theodore, Cyril appears in this work as a balanced commentator, eclectic in his attitude and tolerant of alternative views. Although he displays an occasional uncertainty in his grasp of historical and geographical details, as well as an inclination to verbosity, Cyril has conspicuously influenced the exegesis of his younger contemporary Theodoret of Cyrus, and has made a vital contribution to the development of biblical interpretation in the church.

  • Presents the first part of Cyril of Alexandria’s work on the Minor Prophets
  • Focuses on historical exegesis
  • Provides insight into biblical interpretation in the early church

Top Highlights

“The fact that Jacob was gifted from infancy itself, (244) or rather even before birth, he tries to show by the clause, In the womb he supplanted his brother. You see, even if what happened was a working of divine power (we do not in fact claim that the infant as an embryo in the womb supplanted Esau by himself), nevertheless God was responsible for the child’s achievement by foreknowledge of him as someone who would be good. Hence his saying, ‘I loved Jacob, but hated Esau.’5 Now, this happened by choice of grace, since God definitely chose the one who would be better, once again by foreknowledge, though in this case it was in the womb.” (Page 224)

“In other words, just as the worst illnesses sometimes require not a single incision but even more, so, too, the human mind, when it is a willing victim of insensitivity, requires very frequent striking if it is finally to recover the ability to learn how to operate to its advantage. The blessed prophet Joel therefore seems to have wisely applied chastisement to Israel as though it remained unmoved by the great number of previous punishments, and advised it at the same time to change from its involvement in turpitude to a choice for what pleased God. He added a promise of what was dearest to them if they decided to repent, and gave them confidence that they would find the Lord kind and mild.” (Pages 259–260)

“In so far as he became man, on the other hand, and is like us, he is said to have the Spirit imparted to him; it came down upon him, for instance, in the form of a dove when he became like us, as I said, and in the divine plan he was baptized like one of us.39 Then it was that the Spirit proper to him is said to be given to him from on high on account of his humanity, and this is what the emptying means.” (Page 296)

  • Title: St. Cyril of Alexandria: Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, Volume 1
  • Author: Cyril of Alexandria
  • Series: The Fathers of the Church
  • Volume: 115
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Print Publication Date: 2007
  • Logos Release Date: 2014
  • Pages: 327
  • Era: era:nicene
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. O.T. Hosea › Commentaries; Bible. O.T. Joel › Commentaries
  • ISBNs: 9780813201153, 0813201152
  • Resource Type: Bible Commentary
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2024-03-25T19:25:21Z

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376 – 444) was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople.


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    Digital list price: $39.99
    Save $9.00 (22%)